Jacqueline Jensen

Community Evangelist | Piktochart

Our team at Piktochart was counting down the days until SXSW kicked off this year. We were excited to get back to Austin for a few different reasons, each one more exciting than the last!

First, the event brought together team members from 4 different continents: our Head of Marketing Marta (who is based in Spain), our Spanish Community Champion Romi (who is based in Argentina), and our Chief Product Officer Elvin (who works out of HQ in Malaysia) joined our Customer Success Guru Justin and myself here in the United States. Our team always enjoys when remote team members and HQ team members can share ideas and enjoy a meal together – and Austin was a great place for all of those things!

Second, we were also excited to present a panel our team first pitched to the SXSW community 9 months ago. Through SXSW’s community voting process, our panel Startup Hubs Outside the Valley: Southeast Asia was accepted as part of SXSW’s Startup Village track.

We were thrilled to bring 3 influential Southeast Asia startup community members together to share their thoughts on the growing startup scene in Piktochart’s neck of the woods. They shared the growing pains, big successes, and where the future of the ecosystem is headed. For those who weren’t at the conference but wanted to watch live, we streamed via Periscope. We’ve also got a great recap here on the blog.

Third, our team was thrilled to have the chance to share knowledge from the event with the Piktochart community. Thousands of cutting-edge new media industry experts, innovative developers, and business leaders have spoken at SXSW Interactive over the last 23 years, including Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, Malcolm Gladwell, and Gary Vaynerchuk. This year, President Obama was the opening keynote!


(Source: http://www.wsj.com/video/sxsw-obama-comments-on-apple-fbi-legal-battle/)

Throughout the conference, our team was able to pick from hundreds of programming sessions that covered everything from the latest design and development trends to how scale a product like Piktochart.

We each picked our favorite session from SXSW 2016 to share with you. We’ve split our recaps into two parts: Clever Ways to Build Interest (which is this post) and How to Get Great Feedback (which will be published in a few weeks). We hope you can take what we’ve learned and use it to help build your project into something awesome!

Screw Email! Why the Clever Comms Are Handmade

In this panel, Max Maclean and Ran Stallard from Ogilvy & Mather (an advertising, marketing, and public relations agency) teamed up to talk about why handmade communications are so effective in a digital world.

According to the presenters, people are up to 3300% more likely to open a handwritten communication vs. an emailed one. In fact, they argue, “handmade” could be the next big marketing trend.

The presenters showed several case studies to prove this point. My favorite case study was from the team at Anxiety UK, the UK’s leading charity for those suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

In order to get their message in front of prominent journalists who cover health issues, the organization mailed keyboards in a box. On the outside of the box, the team wrote, “We think it’s time you wrote an article about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” When the journalists unpackaged the box, they saw keyboards with one small, but powerful, change. Rather than the traditional QWERTY ordering, the keys on the keyboards were arranged in alphabetical order. A note inside read, “But try writing it as a sufferer.” The organization also included a press release.

The message was clear: sufferers of OCD must have everything neat and in place, making day-to-day life difficult. By allowing the journalists to step into the shoes of those afflicted with OCD, the organization was able to elicit empathy immediately.



(Source: http://jamesandmatt.co.uk/National-Phobics-Keyboard)

The unique and meaningful package was sent to 19 journalists all across the UK. The cost of the campaign to the organization was £3,000. In the end, the BBC decided to dedicate a 12-minute slot to both the charity and the clever marketing campaign – a slot worth £400,000.

The SXSW presenters told the audience that meaningful communication is often filled with effort, which could range from the cost of transmission or the celebrity you use to the interesting or out-of-the-norm copy or even the effort put into the creativity. Meaningful communication tells the recipient, “We didn’t just bang this message out, we put thought into it. The very fact that it’s different makes it valuable.”

The presenters reminded the audience that consumers read what interests them, so creativity is essential when getting your message across. “If your communication is going to compete with the Kardashians or Game of Thrones for a consumer’s attention, it needs to be creative,” they reminded us.

Here at Piktochart, we have been experimenting with handmade communications. We make sure to include a handwritten, personal element for things like our annual holiday card mailing, a thank you note to a partner after after a collaboration, and to thank users for planning a #PiktoTour event in their city.

To us, it’s important to have heartfelt, meaning communication with our partners, users, and friends.  Interestingly, the positive numbers pointing to the effectiveness of handwritten communication for marketers are on our side, too.

In this session, I learned that not only do handmade communications have a better open rate, but they can really tell the story of your brand effectively. Trust is slowly built and reputation matters. I think handmade, unique communication perfectly reflects our brand here at Piktochart.

Handwritten materials bring to life two things digital communication today lacks: personality and worth. It’s easy to get tied up in digital communications that we forget about the joy of reality. Handmade communication is a old school version of “you to me” rather than “brand to consumer.” Try putting down the keyboard and picking up a pen.

The Building Blocks of Community with Product Hunt

In this session, Ryan Hoover, CEO and Founder of Product Hunt, was interviewed by Carmel DeAmicis, a freelance reporter. Our Spanish Community Champion Romi was excited to attend to learn more about the community building efforts that have made Product Hunt so successful.

Product Hunt is a place to discover and geek out about your next favorite thing. The idea started as a side project with a few dozen contributors. Today, it’s a global community of enthusiasts and makers sharing the latest in tech, games, podcasts, and books.


“I like Product Hunt,” said Romi. “It is a platform that showcases people’s talents and ideas in a very democratic way, making very easy the job of finding the coolest new apps and strongest new startup releases.  Even if you don’t have many contacts and your network doesn’t include powerful names in Silicon Valley, Product Hunt allows your idea to be in the same table than everyone else’s, and if it’s very good it will rise up to the top.”

“Personally, I want to encourage more people to create. Technology is a way of expression,” said Ryan Hoover on stage at SXSW 2016.

One interesting aspect of Product Hunt is that it isn’t open to the general audience.

Scarcity and exclusivity are two keys for Product Hunt. People need to get invites to upvote and post project. It’s a tactic and a design decision that makes users feel honored to be a part of it,” explained Hoover.

Once you’re a part of the Product Hunt community, you realize that it’s worth the wait. Product Hunt has grown a loyal and dedicated community of followers and lovers of “the next big thing”, and it’s shown in the support they provide for products featured on the site.

Hoover shared his process to build a community like the one that surrounds Product Hunt.  He says he started with an initial group of influencers, colleagues, and experts. From there, he created a newsletter and kept them in the loop of updates and news. Next, he asked for their feedback in the early beta phase of Product Hunt. The results was that people feel involved with the product from the early stages and were connected emotionally to the project.

“This approach could work for some of the new things we have coming up at Piktochart,” thought Romi.

Hunt also shared some of the things he’s learned as the CEO of a startup. For instance, Romi learned that whenever you pick up a new job, you have to ask yourself, “Is this something I see myself doing for a decade?” Commitment is important when working with startups. This is something to pursue in a personal endeavor or when joining a company.

“When you look back 6 months from today and don’t feel embarrassed by your naiveté, there’s a problem,” he shared with the audience.

He told the audience that success isn’t always making it big, having a great business, and creating the new app that will save the world. Success may be also looking back and feeling the path you’ve been walking has made you a better and kinder person. He advises looking back and knowing you’ve made the most out of failures by learning from them. He also suggested that you make goals in sync with the kind of person you want to become.

After his session, Hoover decided to extend the Q&A over on Anchor. Take a listen!

Were you at SXSW 2016? What was your favorite session? Share your knowledge and eye-opening moments with us in the comments below!